July 2017 Reading Wrap Up

I had such a good reading month for the month of July! I read 12 books, and enjoyed most of them! I also found a few new favorites! As always, click the links in the titles if you would like to read a more in depth review of each book and see the individual trigger warnings.

Arm of the Sphinx (The Books of Babel #2) by Josiah Bancroft – ★★★★
After reading Senlin Ascends at the end of June, I couldn’t resist picking this book up. It’s a perfect steampunk adventure and unlike anything else I’ve ever read before. Plus, I got to buddy read it with my favorite, Petrik!

The Red by Tiffany Reisz – ★★★
This is one of the most erotic things I’ve ever read in my entire life! I really enjoyed it and I love how unapologetic it was towards sex and every kink under the sun. This is for sure not for the prude of hearts, but if you’re looking for something sexy that will push your boundaries then this is for sure the perfect read for you. Also, it features a bunch of famous artwork and I loved the paranormal mystery behind what was going on.

Punk 57 by Penelope Douglas – ★★★★
This was such a unique romance between two people who have only ever known each other as pen pals since childhood. Even though the romance takes place between two consenting adults, it is still set in their senior year of high school, so it didn’t feel as good as it would have if they were at least in college, but maybe that’s just because I’m getting old. I still really enjoyed this and Penelope Douglas made quite the impression on me with this book.

A Fading Sun (The Sunpath Cycle #1) by Stephen Leigh – ★★
This is a paranormal, yet spiritual, revenge story that really displays the consequences of war. Guys, I wanted to love this, I really did, but it was just so god-awfully boring after the first third of this book. I really had to force myself to finish this, and if it wasn’t an ARC I would have DNFed it without a doubt.

The Bronze Horseman (The Bronze Horseman #1) by Paullina Simons – ★★★★★
This was such a perfect book. I am still thinking about the emotional impact it had on me. This is a WWII historical romance that is set in Russia and it was amazing. This was also a buddy read with Paloma and this book ended up being everything that the both of us ever wanted.

Because You Love to Hate Me: 13 Tales of Villainy curated Ameriie – ★★★★
This is truly a mixed bag; some stories are amazing and other stories are not so great. I completely recommend this if you follow and love many of the authors that contributed to this (Marissa Meyer, Victoria Schwab, Adam Silvera, Nicola Yoon), but I’d probably pass if you’re just looking for an anthology about villains. My favorite story was easily Marigold by Samantha Shannon!

An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson – ★★★★
I loved this, but I couldn’t shake how much it felt like an (actual) YA version of A Court of Thorns and Roses, by Sarah J. Maas. I still really enjoyed this, mostly because it stars fae in their fae courts, but I really expected this to be a five star read for me. Regardless, it’s still worth a buy and a read upon release on September 26th, 2017.

The Fifth Season (The Broken Earth #1) by N.K. Jemisin – ★★★★★
I am so happy that Gelisvb picked this for us to buddy read, because it has been on my TBR forever, but I’ve just never got around to actually picking it up! Well, it’s safe to say that I quickly and wholeheartedly fell in love. This diverse story is everything I want from the SFF genre, and N.K. Jemisin is a gift from above. I can’t wait to finish this series in August.

Tatiana and Alexander (The Bronze Horseman #2) by Paullina Simons – ★★★★
This was another buddy read with Paloma, because we couldn’t wait after reading The Bronze Horseman! Unfortunately, I did not enjoy this one as much as The Bronze Horseman, but it was still a really solid read that lets us see Alexander’s point of view for many of the events in The Bronze Horseman. I just wish we could have gotten more than two chapters of them actually being together and happy.

Age of Swords (The Legends of the First Empire #2) by Michael J. Sullivan – ★★★
Age of Myth was one of my favorite books of 2016, so I was a little disappointed with this next installment. Maybe I had too high of hopes? Regardless, this just fell flat for me and was a little boring to read. Yet, it still showcased Suri, who is one of my favorite book characters of all time. This is an epic fantasy that is set 3,000 years before Michael J. Sullivan’s Riyria Revelations, but this series is meant to be read separately and there will be no spoilers if you haven’t completed it or even started it.

Atheists Who Kneel and Pray by Tarryn Fisher – ★★★★★
Tarryn Fisher wrote my favorite book of all time, Mud Vein, and I’ve been completely mesmerized by her gift with words ever since. She has unlocked pieces of myself that no other author has ever touched. I have never felt like someone has written a book personally for me more than that book. Tarryn Fisher always makes me feel like all my broken parts are on display, but she somehow makes me feel proud of them. And all of her books evoke this emotional response from me, and Atheists Who Kneel and Pray was no different. This was perfection and easily one of my favorite books of 2017.

Corrupt (Devil’s Night #1) by Penelope Douglas – ★★★★
I loved this so very much! I’m not sure what it is, but this summer I’ve just only been craving erotic romances, and Corrupt was an amazing way to end July. Not only was this an amazing story, but it was also such a fast paced mystery, too! I became so addicted to these characters and their love to hate to hate to love relationship. Also, at this point I’m starting to believe that Penelope Douglas is the queen of erotic stories.

I hope you guys had an amazing reading month in July, too! And I hope you have many more amazing reads this August! Let me know if you guys are participating in ARC August! And happy reading!

Bloglovin’ | Twitter | Tumblr | Instagram | Goodreads | Twitch

Corrupt (Devil’s Night #1) by Penelope Douglas

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

“What if I’d corrupted her? What if she’d begun to like playing games too much, and the lust to play- and to win- overpowered her need for me?”

First thing first, trigger warnings for EVERYTHING. Bullying, abduction, rape, attempted rape, grey area consent, violence, child abuse, murder, drug use, drug addiction, underage sexual content, underage drinking, animal cruelty, death of a parent.

Needless to say, this book is dark and twisted and isn’t for the faint of heart. Also, I want to preface this entire review with me stating that I rate erotic romances differently than other books. That’s not saying I won’t call out problematic and toxic elements, but I won’t judge them as harshly as I would a regular romance book, SFF, or anything else. And the whole entire “revenge” theme of this book was problematic as hell, but I was addicted and couldn’t stop reading it. This is for sure a Dark Romance and has super mature themes that are intended for 18+.

Earlier this month I read Penelope Douglas’ Punk 57, and really enjoyed that story and the writing style. I knew I wasn’t going to be able to resist picking up something else by her. Corrupt is New Adult, where Punk 57 stars characters that are at eighteen, but seniors in high school, so I really enjoyed that Corrupt was older, even though we still received a lot of high school flashbacks. And, again, I’m getting too old to read about high schoolers wanting to bone, you know? So I really appreciated that Corrupt had, for the most part, characters in their early to mid twenties. Yet, those high school flashbacks have so much importance, because this entire story surrounds around one Devil’s Night in high school when all of these characters’ lives changed forever.

Our main protagonist, Rika, has lived a sheltered life where everyone makes every decision for her. Her life seems so perfect from the outside, money, powerful family, connections, honestly everything you could ask for. But after Rika’s father died, she has wanted to feel what it feels like to actually live her own life instead of just moving through it while everyone controls her every move.

Rika has grown up alongside another family, who her father was business partners with. This family has looked over here and loves her like one of their own, but they are also constantly trying to push her and their youngest son, Trevor, together. But unbeknownst to them, all Rika can ever think about is their older son, Michael.

“He was everything.My entire life, I only felt completely alive when he was close, and while I knew nothing would ever be easy with him, I also knew nothing would ever be good without him, either.”

Michael has anger issues, period. Like, that has to be said from the get go. I loved him and Rika’s angsty dynamic, but I’m not going to ignore that Michael for sure needs to get some professional help to calm his ass down. Michael is a professional basketball player, and wants to never become like his father or younger brother who only care about money and their stature. Michael is also constantly being haunted by that Devil’s Night that I mentioned above, but he is also always constantly fighting an inner battle with his feelings for Rika.

Michael also has four friends that you will hate and love at the same time. Again, they are all problematic, and their revenge mission is completely unrealistic and absolutely terrifying. Yet, I became so immersed with this mystery of what really happened that Devil’s Night that I couldn’t put this book down. It was immersive, addicting, and I completely loved it.

“Three years ago, curious little Erika Fane wanted to play with the boys, so we indulged her, and she betrayed us. There was no way we’d forget.”

The story really begins once Rika, finally wanting a life of her own, leaves every safe comfort shes knows, and moves to a new city to go to a school and maybe even start a new life. Yet, she doesn’t have any idea that she is falling right into Michael’s trap.

The bottom line is this book ticked a lot of boxes for me. Like, the sex in this is 10/10, mind blowing, amazingly good. And, not to tell you guys too much information about myself or what I like during sex with partners, but the main protagonist and me share a similar kink, so… yeah, I was feeling it.

Also, there is a bisexual female side character in this story, and I was living for it. She wasn’t treated the best, and I pretty much wanted to fight everyone who wronged her constantly, but I was so instantly in love with her. Also, there is pretty good representation in here about sex workers and how they shouldn’t feel shame from anyone, but especially not from the dudes that are paying for the sex!

This is for sure an erotic romance that hints at mystery and is filled with suspense. This story for sure pushes the limits and boundaries, and if you’re okay with that I think you will absolutely love this book, too! At this point I hope to read everything by Penelope Douglas, because she just keeps proving what a talented erotic romance writer she is.

Atheists Who Kneel and Pray by Tarryn Fisher

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

“You want me to make you fall in love with me, and you’re giving me permission to leave and break your heart?”

Full disclosure, Tarryn Fisher has written my favorite book of all time, Mud Vein, which has unlocked pieces of myself that no other author has ever touched. I have never felt like someone has written a book personally for me more than that book. Tarryn Fisher always makes me feel like all my broken parts are on display, but she somehow makes me feel proud of them. And all of her books evoke this emotional response from me, and Atheists Who Kneel and Pray was no different.

“People die. We are not permanent. We have to hurry if we want things.”

Atheists Who Kneel and Pray is about a girl named Yara who is unable to stay in one place for long. She hasn’t had the easiest of childhoods, and one day she decides to leave her England home and travel to America. Yet, even in America she moves from city to city. She goes from New York, to Miami, to Chicago, to eventually Seattle where, true to Tarryn Fisher’s style, our story truly begins.

Yara loves to work as a bartender and one day while she is working in her new city of Seattle, a man walks in who feels differently than all the rest. All through Yara’s travels, artists have wanted her to be their muse. There is just something about Yara that attracts them, and not in the “you’re not like other girls” condescending trope way. Once Yara finds out that the man she can’t stop thinking about is a musician, she starts to question whether he wants love or heartbreak, even though she’s not prepared to give him either.

“That was the thing about pride, it shortsighted our hearts.”

I truly do think it’s best to go into this book blind. Hell, maybe I even told you too much in the paragraph above, but this book is seriously worth the experience regardless. I’d definitely recommended if you’re a contemporary romance fan, because I truly believe it’s a tier above any and everything out there, while also dealing with some pretty heavy topics that most of us choose to ignore in our everyday lives.

Like how we can be the result of past pain that we don’t even know we are harboring, and how it can mindlessly control our relationships and lives. People always say that our past shapes us, but it’s more accurate to say that ghosts from our past haunts and forms us, whether we realize it or not. And some of those ghosts bring some pretty heavy invisible baggage.

“You don’t forgive because they deserve it. Most of the time they don’t. You forgive to keep your heart soft. To move forward without bitterness. Forgiveness is for you.”

This book is real, and it depicts love in the raw form that it is and it does so unapologetically. And let’s be real, love is truly painful at times and feeling such strong things for another human being is scary. I’m not saying love isn’t worth it, or that the high cost/risk doesn’t equal the high reward, but I’m saying that giving yourself, no matter what amount, to another living soul who can one day decide they do not want what you’ve already given them is fucking terrifying. Basically what I’m trying to say is I really connected with Yara on a personal level.

“What’s the point in making yourself look like you’re not hurt, you know? We spend so much time pretending nothing can touch us that men have actually started to believe it.”

I only real “negative” thing I can say is that Tarryn Fisher is also the queen at writing heart wrenching angst, which I know isn’t for everyone. Most of her novels play with the “other woman” and/or “love triangle” trope, and this book is no different. But even if you have a problem with that trope, I still recommend giving this a try, because Tarryn truly does write these tropes better than any authors out there. Also, trigger warnings for depression, drug use, and there was a very small binge eating disorder comment that I believe could possibly be triggering.

“I suppose that happens after people are apart for a length of time. They become more themselves while you cling to who they used to be.”

No one writes like Tarryn Fisher. And I think it’s a writing style you either get and devour or don’t get and just will never understand what I’m talking about. She is such a primal and heartfelt writer and every time I pick up a new book of hers it is truly a cathartic experience. She has a visceral prose that is beyond lyrical and feels deep-rooted in both equal amounts of love and heartbreak. Tarryn Fisher is such a gift to this world and her stories are nothing short magic.

Tarryn Fisher writes the best love stories, because her love stories are about the dark parts of love that people don’t want to talk about. They are gritty, they are brutal, and they are so real. They are hard to read, but even harder to put down.

I read this in one day, because I just couldn’t put it down. Hell, I still can’t stop thinking about it. Also, look at all the quotes I put in this review. I mean, I could honestly highlight this whole entire book because it is so perfectly written. I loved this book and it is easily one of the best things I’ve read in 2017. Honestly, I will pray to Tarryn Fisher’s words and kneel at her alter for as long as she chooses to bless us with her writing.

“How often do we lie to ourselves and say we don’t care about something when we do?”

Bloglovin’ | Twitter | Tumblr | Instagram | Goodreads | Twitch

Age of Swords (The Legends of the First Empire, #2) by Michael J. Sullivan

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

“Every life is a journey filled with crossroads. And then there are the bridges, those truly frightening choices that span what always was, from what will forever be. Finding the courage, or stupidity, to cross such bridges changes everything.”

It hurts my heart, but I didn’t love this one as much as I loved Age of Myth! It was still a really solid addition to an epic fantasy series that I know is going to continue to be one of my favorites. And this book still follows some of my favorite characters of all time, while also introducing us to some new faces and even new races! Be still, my dwarf loving heart.

This series is set 3,000 years before Michael J. Sullivan’s Riyria Revelations, but this series is meant to be read separately and there will be no spoilers if you haven’t completed it or even started it. I’m guessing it will only add to the reading experience, but you won’t be hindered going in blind, like me.

Age of Myth is the book that starts this epic tale, where we get to see many different characters, with their own perspectives and paths, be woven together because of a war that shouldn’t be happening in the first place. We have a recently dead Chieftain’s wife of one of the Rhunes (humans) clans, who is now forced into the role, even though other men want to constantly fight her for it, yet she is without a doubt the best person to lead. We get to see a young girl and her sidekick pet wolf, who have grown up in the magical forests in this world and has more power than she even knows. We learn about the Fhrey (elf) clans, who believe themselves Gods, and we get to see their inner turmoil and we also get to focus in on one unbelievably strong woman who is forced to make tough choice after tough choice. Lastly, we get to follow a poor Rhune man, who hasn’t had the easiest of lives, forced into choosing between running forever or saving the very people who have stripped him of his faith in humanity all his life.

“Losing leaves a bitter taste that lingers long after the sweetness of victory has been forgotten.”

Yet, in Age of Swords we get to see these characters develop more, while also seeing a few side characters shine just as brightly. As I said above, we learn about Dwarves, or Dhergs, or Belgriclungreians, who are nothing short of amazing. We get to see disabled representation, and the way that uncivilized human clans, and some of the world leaders we have today, treat those individuals. We also have representation of a surviving girl, coping with her pain and grief, unable to be touched by others, becoming one of the most important Rhunes in existence with her craft. We get to see the primal beauty of a girl learning to craft a written language so her, her clan, and her family’s stories are never forgotten. We get to see a woman who was only valued for her beauty, become the warrior she has always wanted to be. And lastly, we get to see a young Fhrey boy coming to terms with the power he holds, while also being given the choice of what kind of leader he wants to be. Oh, and we get giants and demons and dragons and old gods, too!

Have I sold you yet? Because Michael J. Sullivan truly crafts some completely unforgettable characters. The magical girl with the wolf sidekick, Suri, is one of my favorite characters in all of literature. She is written expertly and impossible not to love. This series is worth a try just for the privilege of meeting her alone. I don’t mean to gush about Suri, but she is so important to me and it’s downright impossible to not gush about her! And in general, Michael J. Sullivan writes some amazing and strong female representation that is sometimes hard to find in high fantasy.

But besides Suri, this book is about winning smaller battles to eventually try to win a much larger war that seems pretty impossible to win. This book is about how we segregate people who are different than us. This book is about hope, and having faith in the darkest of times. This book is about found families and how you should surround yourself with people who will love you unconditionally and without question or reward. This book is about love and the reckless and desperate things we will do to find or keep it.

“Funny how things that shouldn’t matter actually meant so much and how things as permanent as homes moved.”

I feel like I can’t say too much without giving away spoilers, but my favorite scenes in Age of Swords were, hands down, the ones with the quest inside the mountain. They were so amazing, and I felt like I was right there and a part of the adventure. I also felt so many Hobbit feels and I was completely living for this entire journey.

I also love the message about how the Fhrey and Rhune clans are divided. See, the Rhunes are split up into seven clans because they live in different regions, but the Fhrey are split into seven clans completely based on power and privilege. The Fhrey honestly have a working class at the bottom and a class that believes themselves Gods at the top. There is a huge discussion in this book about how the highest clan wants to keep the lower clans down, and it is a really important message that I think many people could see parallels in to our actual world today. I really appreciated it, and I loved reading about it.

“The gathering that changed the course of human history was nothing more than a circle of chairs filled mainly with stupid, vain men.”

Speaking of the Fhrey people, Michael J. Sullivan is going to torment me until book six about the mysterious door, isn’t he?

This world is huge in this book, which means there is a lot of world building, and I completely understand the necessity of making this story cohesive, but I just felt myself not as invested in some of the other storylines as I would have liked. Again, Suri’s storyline is my favorite, and I also really enjoy Persephone’s, but the rest just fell a little flat for me.

I loved seeing a new language being created. I loved the new characters and races. I loved seeing sacrifice, even though I felt like my heart was being shattered in a million pieces. I loved seeing so many characters faced with moral dilemmas that brought about the constant question of what is the right thing to do. And I loved seeing these characters slowly, but surely, realize that past torment and pain does not make you broken.

Yet, even with all of this being said, not that much happened in this book. There were very few exciting moments, but for the most part this book just felt mostly boring to me. I simply couldn’t put down Age of Myth, but I mostly made myself pick up Age of Swords. I know this book was setting up important ground work for the rest of the series, which I wholeheartedly appreciate, but it’s ultimately the reason I have to give this a lower rating.

I still completely recommend this series, and I truly believe with my whole heart that this is going to be a series I carry with me forever. The characters, the messages, the greater picture at hand, all of these things are building up into something unforgettable, and I can’t wait to get my hands on Age of War!

“Persephone had been so fixated on getting swords that she never considered the perils of where the path might lead, or what she’d need to suffer to travel it.”

The quotes above were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.

Tatiana and Alexander (The Bronze Horseman #2) by Paullina Simons

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

1.) The Bronze Horseman ★★★★★

Buddy Read with Paloma

“We walk alone through this world, but if we’re lucky, we have a moment of belonging to something, to someone, that sustains us through a lifetime of loneliness.”

Okay, so first of all this book should have been named Tatiana OR Alexander based off the amount of time they are actually together. This book is the definition of the word angst. Heartbreaking, torturous angst.

Actual emo Snapchat picture of me being tormented by this book:

Trigger Warnings for attempted rape, graphic violence, graphic depictions of war, and talk of suicide.

I’m going to do my very best to try to review this while staying cohesive, but honestly my thoughts and feelings are sort of all over the place. Also, please do not read this review if you haven’t read The Bronze Horseman or if you care to be spoiled for the events that take place in that book.

This book is told in alternating points of view that flip flops between Tatiana and Alexander. After the events in The Bronze Horseman, Tatiana is starting her new life in America with her newly born son, while Alexander is dealing with the repercussions of war, while being stuck in Europe.

This book is filled with flashbacks. I loved seeing Alexander’s life growing up and how his life was shaped by the choices his parents made. Not that abuse is ever excused, but it was eye-opening to see how many of the things Alexander did to Tatiana were things his father did to his mother. Alexander for sure didn’t have the easiest upbringing, but seeing his life slowly fall more and more apart was really sad.

Alexander goes through a lot of torture in this book, both physical and mental. He goes from captured to war, to war to captured, to captured to more war. It’s heartbreaking, but seeing inside his head and seeing his PTSD develop was really well written. I’ve never been a soldier or a part of any war, and reading this book made me so thankful and aware of my privilege.

Tatiana, like always, proves how amazing of a female character she is. I completely gushed over her in my review of The Bronze Horseman, but all her amazing character traits showed up in this book as well. She’s so selfless, so brave, and so willing to always do what is right.

Like The Bronze Horseman, this book was so atmospheric that you can’t help but feel everything that these characters are going through. Again, the amount of empathy that this series has forced me to feel is actually beyond words. And I think this story would be impossible to forget.

Also, the historical elements in this book is really amazing, too. It’s almost hard to believe that these things actually happened to innocent human beings, just because of where they were born. And seeing how the Soviet soldiers were treated by their own people was nothing short of harrowing. Seeing inside concentration and work camps is beyond heartrending.

Overall, I really did enjoy this book, but it was nothing close to what The Bronze Horseman was. I just feel like there were too many flashbacks, and I wish I could have seen more of Alexander and Tatiana actually being together, through pain or happiness or whatever Paullina Simons chose to give us. Yet, this is still one of the best love stories I’ve ever read.

“Will you remember that? Anywhere you are, if you can look up and find Perseus in the sky, find that smile, and hear the galactic wind whisper your name, you’ll know that it’s me, calling for you… calling you back to Lazarevo.”

This next part is going to be just some super quick and very SPOILER filled thoughts that I had while reading this book that I couldn’t resist mentioning:

Positive Thoughts:
-Tatiana taking all of those trips to Arizona, and even buying land, completely broke me. After her surviving in an eternally wintery starvation doom, it made my heart so very happy to see her find sunshine bliss, even if it was only for her and her son.
-I loved that Alexander got to meet Pasha and thought of it as a sign from God. I actually really enjoy all the religious and faith-building elements of this book.
-How in the hell am I going to resist picking up The Summer Garden after this happy cliffhanger ending that promises them both a new life in America together, with their son, and finally happy?

Negative Thoughts:
-It made me feel weird that Tatiana was so willing to leave her son. Like, I understand everything worked out in the end, but it still made me feel weird and I thought it was important to mention.
-When Alexander was like, “God saved you because you couldn’t survive what I went through” and I was over here like, did you forget her life in Leningrad? Are you not acknowledging that she left her safe American life to come save you, while also putting her life in danger? Like, do you not realize that Tatiana is a selfless saint and you should be thanking your lucky stars that she loves you?
-As much as I loved the flashbacks, and getting to see things through Alexander’s eyes, I wish that this book had a few extra chapters of current day Alexander and Tatiana being happy together, because I honestly do not feel satisfied with them only being together in only two out of forty-one chapters!

The Fifth Season (The Broken Earth, #1) by N.K. Jemisin

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

This book is beautiful, this book is smart, this book is oh so heartbreaking, and this book is a masterpiece. This is one of those books that make you feel absolutely guilty for giving out five stars to other books. This book is unlike anything I’ve ever read, but it felt so seamlessly woven. This book mirrors the society we live in today and makes you think about all those uncomfortable topics you’d rather ignore and pretend do not exist. This book has the best representation I’ve ever read in a SFF novel. This book is deserving of all the hype, all the praise, and every ounce of love it’s received. This book easily is now one of my favorite books of all time.

“Let’s start with the end of the world, why don’t we?”

This story is set in a world called the Stillness, where earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and other terrible things impacting the earth are constantly happening, but there are people who are able to manipulate the earth to ease them. These people are called orogenes and even though they are continually saving the world they are constantly oppressed slaves. This world has convinced everyone that orogenes are dangerous and need to be controlled at all costs. It is illegal to harbor orogenes and you must turn them in, even if they are your family. The price of hiding a orogene is great and most people are not willing to pay it. If a orogene isn’t killed by their community before they are turned in, they are taken to a training school called the Fulcrum where they are deemed worthy enough to train

Everyone in the Stillness is trying to survive the world’s unforgiving environment. This planet is beyond unstable, because of Fifth Seasons that happens sporadically, but almost wipe out the planet each and every time. The people in this world are scared that a new Fifth Season is about to begin. And just so you understand the severe of the living conditions during a Fifth Season, here are some examples:

Choking Season – with volcanic eruptions which caused ash that, if it didn’t kill you from breathing it in, the lack of sunlight for five years would try to.
Acid Season – with plus-ten-level earthquakes, which caused many volcanoes that caused the water to become acidic.
Boiling Season – with hot spot eruptions that began underneath a great lake and made millions of gallons of steam which triggered acidic ran.
Fungus Season – with volcanic eruptions during monsoon season which made for perfect fungal spreading that wiped out major food supplies.

These are just a few of the season, and without orogenes this world wouldn’t be able to keep a new Fifth Season at bay. This book follows three different girls who are each struggling to survive this horrible world and struggling with their own individual journeys:

Essun – An older woman whose husband has killed their young son, because he showed that he was a orogene. He inherited his powers from Essun, but they were keeping it hidden from their community. Essun is now off to find her husband who fled after the murder and took their daughter with him.

Damaya – A small girl who realized she was a orogene after an accidental attack. Her family is isn’t willing to pay the price of harboring her, especially since her community now knows what she is. Her parents call the authorities and she is going to be taken to the Fulcrum, where they can train and use orogenes if they are trainable and submissive.

Syenite – A young woman who has lived the majority of her life at the Fulcrum being trained. At the Fulcrum, as you increase your learning and abilities you will earn rings that signify your power and allows you more privileges. Syenite has four rings, which is impressive in its own way, but she is now assigned to breed with the only ten ring around, so she can give the Fulcrum her child in hopes that it will be very powerful and very trainable.

“Orogeny is damned useful, Syenite is beginning to understand, for far, far more than just quelling shakes.”

Yet the side characters are amazing, too. Hoa, Alabaster, Tonkee, Innon, all of them, along side these three women, worked their way into my heart. This whole dystopian world that only wants to kill itself worked its way into my heart. This story is and these characters are truly one of a kind.

This book perpetuates so many healthy ideas absolutely seamlessly:
➽This book is unapologetically black and it’s something of beauty.
➽This book is about systematic oppression, set in an expertly crafted SFF novel.
➽This book has one of the best polyamorous relationships I’ve ever read.
➽This book has bisexual and gay representation that was perfection.
➽This book has a wonderful transgender side character who everyone accepts without question.
➽This book even celebrates found families and the importance of finding your own people that will love and accept you unconditionally.

“Home is what you take with you, not what you leave behind.”

This book creates so many parallels to the world we live in today. This book, hopefully, will make you think about your internalized racism and the prejudices that you hold without even realizing it. The reason so many of us think the way we do today, in 2017, is because our world has told us to think this way without even being given a chance to think differently. This book even has a fictionalized slur for orogenes that made my stomach turn every time I read it. This book is raw and painful at times, so very painful, but it’s such an important story. And I’m still unsure if I’ve ever read anything as sad as the node maintainers in all of my life. The Fifth Season isn’t just an amazing SFF novel, it’s a parallel to our world today, and I recommend everyone not only read this novel, but to open their eyes while reading this novel.

N.K. Jemisin did all this and wrote one of the best SFF stories I’ve ever read in my life. She deserves every award she won for this masterpiece, if not more. This book is deserving of all the hype, all the praise, and every ounce of love it’s received. This book easily is now one of my favorite books of all time and I can’t wait to read The Obelisk Gate.

“This is what you must remember: the ending of one story is just the beginning of another.”

Also, please go watch the best review of The Fifth Season ever created, by my all time favorite Booktuber, Adriana, from perpetualpages! Their review brings me to tears every time I watch it, and I hope my review plus theirs will make you pick up this powerful and important book with one of the best stories ever written.

Bloglovin’ | Twitter | Tumblr | Instagram | Goodreads | Twitch

An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

ARC provided by Simon & Schuster in exchange for an honest review.

“You are like a living rose among wax flowers. We maybe last forever, but you bloom brighter and smell sweeter, and draw blood with your thorns.”

Let me preface this review by letting you all know that all I want in this life is to read books about the fae. Seriously, give me a rainy or snowy day, a big hot cup of tea or coffee, and a book involving anything to do with faeries and I’ll be a happy woman. I was completely captivated and entirely immersed in Margaret Rogerson’s debut novel, An Enchantment of Ravens.

This story is about a young human girl, Isobel, who is from a city, Whimsy, which lives in a constant state of summer. She is a very talented painter, who focuses on portraits for fair folk subjects from the fairy courts, and in return they grant her different enchantments. But she has to make sure the wording is precise, because the fae in this book are rather mischievous creatures that excel in trickery.

Isobel is very well known by the fae for her painting Craft. See, in this world, even though the fair folk are magical and immortal beings, they are unable to ever create. This means painting, drawing, writing, even tasks like cooking. And Isobel is the most talented and beloved painter among the fair folk. She has many regular fair folk clients, but her world completely changes when she gets a much unexpected message that she will soon be painting the prince of the autumn court, Rook. Isobel gladly accepts, but makes the deadly mistake of painting exactly what she sees, which is mortal sorrow in his eyes.

This simple and overlooked minor detail ends up making Rook look weak and all the fair folk to look down upon him. Rook then rushes back to Whimsy to collect Isobel herself, and together they embark on an adventure to right the wrong of painting human emotion on a fair folk that is supposed to feel nothing. That is, until Isobel and Rook start to develop stronger feelings for one another and they break the Good Law that the Adler King set in place, which states that a fair folk and a human can never love one another and that it will be punishable with death.

Besides Isobel trying to correct painting the emotion, while also trying to keep her emotions in control, we have the Wild Hunt that has fae beasts constantly after them, too. We also have the Green Well, which will change you into a fair folk with just one sip, but for a very high price in an artist’s eyes.

And right before our eyes, we get to see a beautiful story of sacrifice and love be painted. Also, this for sure has A Court of Thorns and Roses, by Sarah J. Maas, feels to it. I just seemed to be constantly reminded of ACOTAR while reading this story. Maybe it is because both stories star fae and take place for a majority in the spring court, but either way this feels like a YA ACOTAR, but Rook is way better than Tamlin.

This story held very true to fae folklore and mythology: the fair folk cannot lie, they have negative reactions to iron, they are very vain and very overly confident, they eat “interesting” food, and they wear glamour to hide what they truly look like underneath. I loved all of these aspects and the way they were seamlessly incorporated.

Isobel is an amazing female protagonist that I felt honored to read about. She was so selfless and was willing to do anything to protect her family. Also, she wouldn’t let anyone or anything interfere with her passion for art and it warmed my heart completely. She was so smart, so caring, and so determined. I loved her and she is easily one of my favorite characters of all time.

And Rook… Well, Rook was pretty exceptional as well. Yes, he was cocky and arrogant, but what fae court prince isn’t? Rook was easy to love, too, and he also has the power to shape shift and I was completely living for any scene with Isobel interacting with him as an animal. Especially one bed time scene in particular! (I promise, this sounds way more risqué that it really is.)

The side characters in this book were simply amazing, too. Lark, Gadfly, Aster, March, May, Emma, I loved them all. I can only hope that Margaret Rogerson does not stop creating stories set in this world. There is so much potential here, and I cannot wait to see what she does next.

My only real complaint is that I just never really believed, in my heart and soul, Rook and Isobel’s feelings for one another. I feel like it doesn’t make sense on either of their sides, either. Like, Rook was burned once before and Isobel had a family tragedy that made her very weary of all things fae in general. Yes, she spent a few weeks painting his portrait, but they even said they didn’t speak that much to one another. It was like a weird type of instalove, which never felt 100% authentic.

Yet, the true love story of this book, in my eyes, is the love between humans and being able to have an outlet to create art. I truly believe this story is a love letter to artists of all kinds, or people in general that can’t imagine a life without being able to create. I loved this underlying message, and I loved how Isobel never took her gift for granted, but instead used it as a solution to a problem multiple times.

This story was a gift to read. The imagery was expertly crafted, the prose was beautiful, the characters were fantastic, and the story was absolutely addicting. This three-hundred page stand alone YA fantasy is very fast paced, immersive, and very easy to read. I read this in two sittings and once I turned the last page my only wish was for more.

Also, can Charlie Bowater do more cover art now, because this cover is nothing short of breathtaking. And it’s a perfect match for the beautiful story that is inside. I completely recommend this upon release (September 26th, 2017) and I have nothing but high hopes for Margaret Rogerson and this stunning debut novel! I wish her all the success in the world and I selfishly hope she doesn’t leave this fae world anytime soon.

Bloglovin’ | Twitter | Tumblr | Instagram | Goodreads | Twitch

The quote above was taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.